A programme called ‘Children’s Craniofacial Surgery’ aired on BBC2 a couple of weeks ago. Upon watching it, I became extraordinarily interested in the concept of “what is normal?” – a quote taken from one of the Doctors in the show himself.
This is a programme which follows the surgeons of the Children’s Hospital Oxford and the young patients there who have disfiguring conditions. Surgeons, transforming both their quality of life and their appearance, can amend the children’s disfigurements. There were a huge variety of disfigurements in the programme and I was extremely intrigued as to how the surgeons went about the surgery in the ways in which for some cases, they would have to take huge risks in order to increase the benefits of the procedures.
A key factor, which made this programme quite upsetting and somewhat uncomfortable to watch, was how the parents had to deal with their children’s condition. Ultimately, a large majority of the surgeries the children must have are necessary for their survival but they also result in a potential radical change of their children’s features. Of course they know the procedure must be done in order for the survival of their child, but seeing the dramatic changes done to their beautiful child can be difficult to deal with.
Something else which greatly interested me from this programme, is that having a deformity can be life threatening, however other deformities simply have strong impacts on the visual appearance of the person. One of the patients, Harry, has Moebius syndrome, resulting in paralysis of the facial muscles preventing him from being able to smile. He decided to undergo ‘smile surgery’ to allow him to be able to smile. However, in cases such as Harry’s, he could survive without the surgery. This is a very fascinating topic as people often critisise those who have surgery for cosmetic reasons. However, people who have cosmetic surgery may feel the same way as Harry – uncomfortable with their appearance and therefore lacking confidence. Of course one could say that Harry was in more need of the surgery if you were to look at him and then at someone who for example wanted breast enlargements. On this note I think people need to consider the more psychological reasoning behind the surgery and not be so quick to judge. Surely if people are unhappy with how they look they should not be critisised for the number of times they go under the knife “irrelevantly”… Or should they?
Harry before the surgery: